The Summer of Steve & playoff picks

Jason Gregor
April 14 2010 12:47PM

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers.

Here we sit for the 4th straight season, hours away from the opening of the playoffs and once again Edmontonians have to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs on TV. No live games in our city. No chance of “Shirts off for Horcoff” chants in the streets. No chance the boss allows you to show up late because of a series clinching victory the night before. No playoff games sucks, even for the media.

Covering the playoffs is akin to how the fans cheer during the playoffs. It is more intense, fun and exciting. Sure, the quotes can be more cliché than ever, but after one or two games a few players get a good hate on and the mental mind games begin.

The playoffs are like the Olympics, but longer, especially in a Canadian city when their team wins a few rounds. Only Vancouverites will have a chance to rekindle their Olympic spirit, because the Canadiens and Senators are big underdogs.

My buddy Ryan Lambert told me about Whatifsports.com and pointed out that Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Philly, Detroit and Nashville have ZERO chance of winning the Cup.

“We simulated the entire playoff 2,001 times using the current season rosters and statistics. Home ice advantage is taken into account. Average wins and losses per series are indicated in the bracket.”

Keep in mind that through all of their calculations they didn’t produce one upset in the first round. LA has the best chance at an upset at 30.9% while Detroit, 26.9% and Colorado 23.9% are next.

Before I get to Sheldon Souray and Steve Tambellini’s upcoming press conference later today, here’s my picks for the first round.

SAN/COL

Everyone is scared of the Sharks and their inability to win in the playoffs, but the Avs are too young and the Sharks are flat out better. Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle’s Olympic experience will lead this team past the Avs, and in fact, they will win the Cup this year. Sharks in five.

CHIC/NASH

I like Barry Trotz’ team, and if they were 5th or 6th I’d pick them to win a round, but the Hawks are just too deep. The Preds will continue their streak of never winning a playoff series, but they will give the Hawks a tough series. Hawks in six.

VAN/LA

I’m going with the Kings in an upset, although the Kings have 101 points compared to the Canucks’ 103 so is it really an upset? The Kings like to pressure the puck down low, and they have three solid lines, and the Canucks defence is their weakness. The Sedins have been unreal all year, but Michel Handzus is one of the best checking centres in the league. That will be a great match up with Handzus, Freddy Modin and Wayne Simmonds v. the Sedins and Burrows. Roberto Luongo has looked average down the stretch, but he still has a huge edge over Jonathon Quick. Kings in Seven.

PHO/DET

No team since the 1983-1985 Oilers has made it to the Cup finals three straight seasons and the Wings won’t end that streak. The Wings have been the best team since the Olympic break, 16-3-2, and they have way more playoff experience than the Desert Dogs. The Dogs were 13-5-1 after the Olympics, and they are the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL; they get no respect. The Coyotes are relentless on their puck pursuit, and they will make life very difficult for the Wings’ defenders. Jimmy Howard is a rookie and Ilya Bryzgalov has lots to prove. The Coyotes have home ice, and they will use it to win in seven. Dogs in Seven.

WASH/MONT

This will be ugly. I don’t care how good Jaroslav Halak was in the Olympics and down the stretch for the Habs, he won’t post a 2.00 GAA this series, and the will need to if the Habs want to win. The Canadiens don’t have the firepower to keep up with the high-scoring Capitals, and the Habs’ defence isn’t big enough to slow down Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom and the boys. Capitals in four.

NJ/PHILLY

I really want to pick the Flyers in this one. They won five of six in the regular season, but I don’t put much stock in that. They have to rely on Brian Boucher to win, and he’ll need to recapture the out-of-body experience he had back in 2003/2004 with the Coyotes when he posted five consecutive shutouts and didn’t allow a goal for 332:01. The Flyers have lots of talent up front and on the backend, and they will push the Devils. My gut tells me to pick the Flyers, but stupidly I will pick the Devils in six.

BUFF/BOS

Ryan Miller is good enough to beat the pop-gun offence of the Bruins. Only the Flames (204) scored fewer goals than the Bruins (206) and with Marc Savard out, I don’t see how the Bruins score enough to win. The Sabres have a great goalie, but they aren’t good enough to compete with the Pens or Capitals later on. Peter Chiarelli will be ecstatic drafting Taylor Hall this summer to improve their scoring next year. Sabres in six.

PITT/OTT

Similar to the Wings, I don’t see them making the Cup finals three years in a row, but they will get out of the first round. (Since my gut tells me Philly wins, the Pens will beat the Sabres in the 2nd round, but lose to the Caps in the finals, however I’m dumb and not picking that so the Pens will lose in the 2nd round). I’m guessing Ottawa would have preferred if the Pens won the Atlantic, so they could have faced the Devils instead, and for the first time since 1996, Canada won’t have a team in the 2nd round of the playoffs. (Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Calgary all lost in the first round that year). Pens in Six.

TAMBO SPEAKS

Steve Tambellini has a press conference at 1 p.m. today, where he will address the season, Sheldon Souray and the first overall pick. Yesterday was a monumental day in Oiler history, when it was confirmed they will have the first overall selection in the draft, for the first time in franchise history.

This story should be bigger, but Souray’s comments, and Tambellini’s insistence to wait two days to respond to them, means it will Taylor or Tyler talk will be over-shadowed.

Tambellini and the Oilers should have had an end-of-the-season presser planned on Monday. He could have wrapped up the season, and then luckily he would have been able to address Souray’s comments Monday. This would have allowed the Oilers to focus on the first pick, and just how big of a deal it truly is.

Instead today we will hear what Tambellini’s plans are for the summer, and his thoughts on Souray’s statement.

Last year, Tambellini showed passion and fire when he announced that Craig MacTavish would not be returning, but that the players were just as responsible. He then vowed to make changes. No major changes occurred, and he chose to promote from within with J.F Jacques, Ryan Stone and Gilbert Brule.

Today we should hear what his plan is for the off-season. I’ve said it many times before that this is the most important off-season in Oiler history, and Tambellini’s tenure with the Oilers will ultimately be decided this summer.

He’s in a tough spot, with so many underachievers and he is still trying to clean up Kevin Lowe’s mess, but he knew that when he took the job, and now he needs to make the right moves to turn this organization around.

He can’t trade, buyout or not qualify any players today, but he needs to make it clear that he has a plan moving forward. Being cryptic and not straight forward is unacceptable now.

He needs to show Oiler fans that he is a better communicator than Souray suggested he is.

The SUMMER OF STEVE begins today.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 pmg2
April 14 2010, 12:56PM
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Good: We got the first pick overall. Now we can place the onus on management to make a decent choice for our future.......hopefully !

Bad: Sheldon ---Get the Hell Out of Here ! It's funny I was thinking and hoping management of keeping him here just around mid-season this last year. How things change. Whatever beefs he has had -- it was done outright unprofessionally.

Good: The summer and June draft appears to make further changes to player personnel - and hopefully a fresh start of watching young guys giving it their all - making mistakes - and at least leaving it out on the ice. As a blue collar city I don't mind an honest effort - even if I do have a professional job !

Bad: K-Lowe still appears to be staying here.

Enough Said.

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#2 SirFozz
April 14 2010, 12:57PM
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STEVE!

*assesses throwing out a high five*

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#3 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 12:58PM
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Excellent point on Tambellini. He hasn't really been clear about anything this year. HE needs to man up today & either rip Souray a new one or be clear how 44's statements were wrong.

I really want to hear him say 'rebuild' too. Not retool, we need some kids to develop here & in OKC. Hopefully evaluations are completed...

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#4 danjo1
April 14 2010, 12:59PM
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He said a lot of what people wanted to hear last year too, and did nothing to back it up -- fair or not, the perception is that nothing was done.

It's a matter of fans waiting to see what happens but I don't really think Tambellini will reveal too much of what he wants to do until the right time comes.

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#5 baggedmilk
April 14 2010, 01:00PM
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Then he's going to say that the Oilers will be trading the 1st overall pick + some garbage to Boston for their 2nd overall pick and their 17th overall pick.

The Oilers will then draft Tyler Seguin, after convincing Boston they really wanted Hall. Because no team can be successfull without a #1 center. As of right now, the Oilers don't have such a center.

Fans will complain mercilessly about passing over Hall and picking Seguin, until Seguin succeeds on a line with Eberle and Paajarvi-Svensson. Then baggedmilk will be praised as War Lord of the Oilers Nation.

It has been written.

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#6 jeanshorts
April 14 2010, 01:01PM
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I know this is probably breaking some kind of treaty, since there's a bit of tension between certain writers, but this is an excellent article and I think everyone should read it. Sheds a bit more light on why Souray probably isn't completely off base http://www.coppernblue.com/2010/4/14/1418091/communications-breakdown-its?login=1271271268

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#7 Mike Krushelnyski
April 14 2010, 01:06PM
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Is anyone really expecting Tambo to say anything of substance?

Let me guess:

-Gloss over the Souray thing in less than a minute.

-Injuries played a huge part and this season wasn't what we're really capable of.

-We like what we have here with a lot of our players, and with the #1 pick we're really excited about what we have going forward.

-Unfurling of "Mission Accomplished" banner.

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#8 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:08PM
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@jeanshorts

~The sheepdog breeders in Wetaskiwin would run Hemsky out of town~

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#9 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:09PM
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It's starting on 1260 right now.

MVP - Khabi AGAIN...honestly

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#10 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:10PM
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Tambellini "Finishing 30th brings clarity - we need to make some changes"

YES!

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#11 jeanshorts
April 14 2010, 01:11PM
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Is it me, or does Tambo seem INCREDIBLY nervous?

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#12 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:11PM
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Tambellini "Try to make some moves @ the draft" "Everyone knows we have to do this, no more quick fixes"

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When Tambo talked about changes last year did he really state that he was going to go and sign a bunch of guys? Is it not possible that what he did by promoting from within was his plan to start? I mean it was pretty apparent that Brule and Pouilot were going to be fighting for 4th line center when he didn't sign Betts who was interested in the job and sat around practicing with local NHlers all summer.

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#14 danjo1
April 14 2010, 01:12PM
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woah! just slapped down K-Lowe's theory of right signing=winning.

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#15 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:13PM
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Tambellini "We have to take care of our own business - better scouting, assessing, minor league franchise"

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#16 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:15PM
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Tambellini: "We need TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN BUSINESS FIRST - on the inside"

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#17 pmg2
April 14 2010, 01:15PM
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"We have to do a better job" "Are we accountable - Yes !" "We will make tough decisions" "We need a core group who will want to be an Oiler"

Okay Tambo - go get'em God be with you. We've seen enough mediocrity for far too long. Bring us some hope and pride to watch this team again !!!

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#18 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:15PM
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Ouch, numerous meetings with Souray...hmmm

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#19 RossCreekNation
April 14 2010, 01:15PM
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Tambellini: "We need to do a better job 'assessing'"... hahaha. This guy is hella nervous. Called Staios "Stay-os".

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#20 SirFozz
April 14 2010, 01:16PM
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Finally we discover the end point from all the assessing....clarity.

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#21 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:17PM
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Tambellini is bringing the heat. He doesn't sound happy. Finally!

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#22 jeanshorts
April 14 2010, 01:17PM
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Is he completely skirting the Souray issue?

Seems like he's trying to deflect heat by really pumping the tires of the city.

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#23 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:18PM
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Tambellini - Sick of the bitching & complaining.

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#24 SirFozz
April 14 2010, 01:18PM
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BUCK75 wrote:

Tambellini is bringing the heat. He doesn't sound happy. Finally!

Sounds like this every April...

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#25 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:19PM
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Tambellini pretty much said it's not his job to phone people in the hospital. Most of the team was in the hospital this year *lol*

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#26 baggedmilk
April 14 2010, 01:19PM
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BUCK75 wrote:

Tambellini is bringing the heat. He doesn't sound happy. Finally!

Did the same thing last year though.

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#27 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:20PM
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SirFozz wrote:

Sounds like this every April...

True - but he is pretty much saying a tear down. I like his attitude, even if he is a bit nervous.

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#28 dragon
April 14 2010, 01:20PM
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BUCK75 wrote:

Tambellini is bringing the heat. He doesn't sound happy. Finally!

Finally?????

He sounds EXACTLY like a year ago.

How can you open a year later with: 'we have good players but we need some change' ???

And now the real big difference was losing JFJ and Stone???

We need a new GM!!

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#29 BarryS
April 14 2010, 01:21PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

Did the same thing last year though.

Last year he obviously thought a couple changes, job done. This year he knows it will be more than couple changes, it means a lot of changes.

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#30 baggedmilk
April 14 2010, 01:21PM
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"All about player development. That's where we are right now"

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#31 RossCreekNation
April 14 2010, 01:21PM
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Tambellini admitted that Souray has wanted out for the past year.

Perhaps thats why Souray finally snapped.

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#32 jeanshorts
April 14 2010, 01:21PM
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@dragon

hahaha when he said that Jacques thing I literally laughed out loud. Ugh we're in a bad situation.

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#33 BarryS
April 14 2010, 01:23PM
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Those two made as big a difference as anybody, we were winning with them, don't hear him say they were part of the solution in the future.

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#34 baggedmilk
April 14 2010, 01:24PM
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That was the worst question I've ever heard...

"what has led you to believe that this team isn't good enough?"

I think that was Tencer. Awful.

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#35 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:24PM
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@dragon

Ok - he hasn't said hardly a word all season & now you're not happy with what he is saying now? I think he is laying out a plan. Taking ownership of the situation. It's on him now, not pointing the finger to KLowe.

This is his statement - delivering on his statement is going to be his legacy...

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#36 dragon
April 14 2010, 01:24PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

hahaha when he said that Jacques thing I literally laughed out loud. Ugh we're in a bad situation.

god, I bet Seguin starts really getting scared: am I ready to hand over my development to this guy???

no wonder Hall's dad is meddling...

////STONE AND JFJ AGAIN, GIVE IT UP ALLREADY////

hope KLow is listening.

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#37 RossCreekNation
April 14 2010, 01:24PM
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Assess... assess... assess... assess... assess...

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#38 baggedmilk
April 14 2010, 01:25PM
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I hear Brownlee... He sounds thinner.

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#39 jeanshorts
April 14 2010, 01:25PM
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BUCK75 wrote:

Ok - he hasn't said hardly a word all season & now you're not happy with what he is saying now? I think he is laying out a plan. Taking ownership of the situation. It's on him now, not pointing the finger to KLowe.

This is his statement - delivering on his statement is going to be his legacy...

He's saying the right things for sure. But he also said the right things last year. Fool me once...

I think most of us are just taking this with a grain of salt, as to not get our expectations too high.

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#40 dragon
April 14 2010, 01:26PM
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BUCK75 wrote:

Ok - he hasn't said hardly a word all season & now you're not happy with what he is saying now? I think he is laying out a plan. Taking ownership of the situation. It's on him now, not pointing the finger to KLowe.

This is his statement - delivering on his statement is going to be his legacy...

a GM at this level should have had a plan last april already and now be a long way into the execution part...

yes, frustrated.

god, change takes looooong in Alberta....

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#41 baggedmilk
April 14 2010, 01:27PM
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@jeanshorts

I hate you.

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#42 Mike Krushelnyski
April 14 2010, 01:27PM
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If Hudsons pays him a couple hundred bucks every time he name drops it might add up to enough to buy out Moreau!

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#43 BarryS
April 14 2010, 01:28PM
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@dragon

Hall's dad doesn't need a reason to meddle, it's his whole history.

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#44 BUCK75
April 14 2010, 01:28PM
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Khabi - a great person, but he likes his Russian PRince...

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#45 Senator Theo
April 14 2010, 01:28PM
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Great article Gregor. My favorite from 2006 was: "Show some skin for Roloson!".

It hardly ever works anymore.

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#46 baggedmilk
April 14 2010, 01:28PM
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BUCK75 wrote:

Khabi - a great person, but he likes his Russian PRince...

Driving when you're drunk is more like a video game.

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#47 RossCreekNation
April 14 2010, 01:28PM
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Tambellini: Doesn't want to head into next season with 3 goalies; looks to make a decision between Dubnyk & Deslauriers

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#48 BarryS
April 14 2010, 01:29PM
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dragon wrote:

a GM at this level should have had a plan last april already and now be a long way into the execution part...

yes, frustrated.

god, change takes looooong in Alberta....

It takes two to make a trade, four if you count player agents, enough said.

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#49 jeanshorts
April 14 2010, 01:30PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Tambellini: Doesn't want to head into next season with 3 goalies; looks to make a decision between Dubnyk & Deslauriers

I hope what he really means is he's going to trade for Corey Schneider and jettison both JDD and Khabi.

Oh a boy can dream can't he?

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#50 dragon
April 14 2010, 01:30PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Tambellini: Doesn't want to head into next season with 3 goalies; looks to make a decision between Dubnyk & Deslauriers

~ DD, Nilsson, Patio and Moreau for Florida's 3rd ~

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